Tertullian, the Berenstain Bears and Humility

As a kid, I loved this book. “Let this be a lesson to you: That is what you must never do!”

It was inevitable that the Holy Father should get around to discussing Tertullian–that Great Church Father who failed the race. It has always amazed me the way we still quote Tertullian as an authority in the Church’s Tradition, even though in the end he didn’t get “St” in front of his name. He didn’t just end up dodgy, like Origen who similarly failed in that distinction, he went right off the rails. And why? Because he couldn’t stand people going off the rails.

“The essential characteristic of a great theologian is the humility to stay with the Church, to accept her and ones own faults, because only God is all holy,” the Pontiff said. “We, on the other hand, are always in need of forgiveness.”

Yes, Papa Benny, yes, now I see: that is a valuable lesson for me.

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